you've elected to be a disc or film reviewer, which is an essentially
egotistical profession or hobby, you don't really get to
say "That's not my sort of film." In this game,
everything should be your sort of film. If a review disc
lands on your doormat, well you decided to be a reviewer
so you get to cover it, especially if your fellow reviewers
are all otherwise occupied. As it happens this is no bad thing. It's all too easy to do
the book-cover-judging thing based solely on a title or a trailer
or the cast or director, and you can sometimes get a nice
surprise that makes just a little dent on your prejudices.
come clean here and admit that I'm not a fan on modern romantic dramas
or comedies. Then I'm not a romantic, not by any stretch
of the imagination. I'm not immune to a bloody good screen
romance – Casablanca gets me dew-eyed every
time and A Matter of Life and Death is
running on TV as I write this, seemingly berating me for
my cynicism (mind you, it's on Channel 4, who have just fucked
up one of the best transitions in the film by inserting
an ad break mid-way through – who wouldn't be cynical
after that?). But in recent years the horribly formulaic
and sometimes nauseatingly saccharine nature of film romances,
at least in US and the UK cinema, is enough to make a cat
paper, at least, p.s. (the lower case is
correct here) looks like another of those 'romance with
a twist' stories, ones in which two people of differing backgrounds, age,
ethnic groups or personalities are brought together by a turn
of fate and whose mutual attraction has a film full of obstacles
to overcome if they are to end up together. And they will
end up together, at least if the studio has anything to
do with it. That the twist here has a potentially supernatural
edge only made me more apprehensive.
all starts with Louise Harrington, who's an admissions officer
at Columbia University's School of Fine Arts. She's divorced,
approaching 40 and frustrated with life. About to head home after
a day of processing applications, she finds one that she
missed and is startled to see the name of her long-since
dead high school sweetheart on the return address. But it
gets worse. When he turns up for his interview, 20-something
Scott Feinstadt not only has the same name as Louise's dear
departed, he looks like him too, and even paints like him.
Overcome by the memories from her past, Louise quickly seduces
him. Will it last? Will that age difference really matter?
More to the point, is Scott really the reincarnation of
this is not the point at all, but a device to enable Louise
to examine her emotional life, past and present, and her
feelings about hitting middle age. This is explored with
a mixture of the obvious (phone calls to her best friend
Missy) and the smartly written and surprisingly downbeat,
as when Louise externalises her own neuroses by outlining
to Scott just how life might turn out for him being married
to a 40-year-old like her. It's a similar story with the narrative, which
drifts between the pleasingly unexpected, the not quite
convincing and the generically formulaic, its indie film smarts
occasionally undermined by its conciliatory eye for audience
the film does impress is in the largely low-key handling
of the characters and some very nicely judged performances.
Laura Linney completely and convincingly inhabits
the role of Louise without ever sentimentalising her or
drowning in middle-aged angst, and Topher Grace impressively
holds his own as Scott, neatly side-stepping most of the
character clichés you might associate with such a
role. Nice support is provided by Gabriel Byrne as ex-husband
Peter and Marcia Gay Harden as sex-mad best friend Missy.
has p.s. turned me all around on modern
romantic dramas? Not really, but I will freely admit that
it's more involving and thoughtful than most such films
I have endured in recent years. It also scores serious points
for its positive portrayal of an age-gap relationship in
which the woman is both the older party and the central
character, a too-rare occurrence in cinema that just about
justifies the rather chick-flick ending.
1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced, this is a pretty good
transfer that rises above that when the light levels are
good, with pleasing contrast and detail, but slips a bit
in darker scenes, where the contrast is less impressive, colours
do not always seem quite true, and black levels sometimes
vanish completely. At its worst, this can be very noticeable,
but scenes that suffer are thankfully few.
stereo 2.0, surround 5.1 and DTS tracks are all available
and all well mixed and clear. This is not a sound show-off
movie, but the 5.1 and DTS tracks do have a tad more finesse
than the stereo.
one of real note here, a Commentary by director Dylan Kidd and cinematographer Joaquín
Baca-Asay. Kidd does the lion's share of the talking, covering
the expected ground – planning and shooting scenes, working
with the actors, etc. – in pleasingly ego-free fashion.
The likelihood is that this track has been imported from
the US release, which would explain the multiple references
to deleted scenes that are not present here.
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12)
sells the film very much on its romantic qualities.
usual Trailer Reel has some choice
inclusions in the shape of 36 (the French
trailer with no English subtitles), The King,
The Proposition and The Devil and
romantic dramas are your thing then you should definitely
give p.s. a look – though it follows genre
expectations in some ways, it breaks with them in as many
others, and the performances really sell it, even if the
script wanders a tad in quality. Tartan's DVD has a reasonable
transfer and an interesting commentary track, but is missing
the deleted scenes from Sony's US region 1 release.